The Corner

The Democrats on Border Security

So I’ve been looking over the immigration proposal being floated by Sens. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).

Sensitive to the political exigencies of the day, and eager to brand the measure as “tougher” than the failed 2007 immigration reform effort, the proposal front-ends border security. It calls for security benchmarks to be met before “effectively deal[ing] with the millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States.” But the border security plan amounts to swelling the ranks of ICE and the Border Patrol, giving them some new toys (and some budget ones: it proposes replacing a satellite-based detection program running in Arizona with a ground sensor-based alternative), and creating yet another “bipartisan commission” to make further recommendations.

It also explicitly reserves for the Homeland Security Secretary the authority to deploy the National Guard to the borders, and baldly assumes that “Because the federal government will have fulfilled its obligations to secure America’s borders” within 12 months of enacting these proposals and those offered by New Bipartisan Commission #43491224583, “states and municipalities will be prohibited from enacting their own rules and penalties relating to immigration, which could undermine federal policies.” That’s a dubious modus ponens, not just because of the bold presumption that the federal government can somehow get its act together in a year, but because, whatever else it does, it is hard to argue that laws like Arizona’s undermine federal border security measures. In fact, Secretary Napolitano testified before the Senate the other day that the Arizona law could yield so many illegals for deportation that it would stretch existing border security resources.

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